Zimbabwe eye rare overseas series triumph



On a track that is expected to aid plenty of turn, Brandon Mavuta will have a key role to play © AFP

It’s been 17 years since Zimbabwe managed to win a Test series overseas. The last time they did it, Bangladesh were the opposition. At that time, the hosts had just made their foray into the game’s longest format and their struggles were understandable. After more than a decade and a half, Bangladesh have made rapid strides, especially at home, troubling even the mightiest of teams. But now, they are staring down at a defeat that most didn’t see coming.

Zimbabwe’s struggles on and off the pitch in recent times is well documented. They have struggled to put their best XI on the park and against Bangladesh’s spin attack in their own den, Zimbabwe were expected to roll over. Instead, a dogged resistance with the bat in the first innings and two splendid bowling efforts saw them take a 1-0 lead, ensuring they don’t lose the series. Repeating the effort is not going to be easy but the prospect of winning a series overseas for just the third time in their history will keep the visitors on their toes.

Hamilton Masakadza shed his natural instincts to dig in deep and battle it out for 100 crucial runs in the first Test that came under a strike rate of 50. Sean Williams carried forward his good form in the ODIs to the Test arena by top-scoring in the Test. If the experienced campaigners Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza also chip in, Bangladesh will find themselves in trouble especially with Peter Moor also looking assured during his fighting unbeaten half-century in the first innings.

Zimbabwe would have been pleased with the efforts of debutant Brandon Mavuta as well, in the absence of veteran Graeme Cremer. The legspinner picked up four wickets in the second innings to bowl his side to a victory. On a track that is expected to aid plenty of turn towards the end of the game, unlike the one on offer during the first Test, he is expected to play a massive role alongside seamers Tendai Chatara and Kyle Jarvis.

Bangladesh will be buoyed by the return of Mustafizur Rahman and will bank on him for those crucial breakthroughs. But it is their batting that will be under the scanner. They have failed to go past 200 in each of their last eight Test innings and that’s certainly an alarming sign. While they are missing Shakib-Al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, openers Liton Das and Imrul Kayes failed to replicate their white-ball heroics.

Mahmudullah, leading in Shakib’s absence, had a double failure and it certainly makes a case for Mushfiqur Rahim, their most trusted Test batsman to bat up the order. Debutant Ariful Haque had a fruitful outing and that will hold him in good stead for this crucial encounter.

When: November 11-15 at 09:30 AM local time (9.00 IST)

Where: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka

What to expect: Another slow surface is expected in Dhaka. The last time Bangladesh played here in a Test match, Sri Lanka’s spinners had the final say. With the weather expected to be clear on all five days, another examination against spin awaits the visitors.

Team News

Bangladesh: Mustafizur Rahman looks all set to return to the playing XI after getting rested for the opening Test. Mohammad Mithun might be brought in to replace Nazmul Hossain to bolster the batting lineup and the think-tank might also look to surprise the Zimbabweans by including the uncapped Khaled Ahmed.

Squad: Mahmudullah (c), Imrul Kayes, Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Khaled Ahmed, Nazmul Islam, Mehidy Hasan

Zimbabwe: The winning combination should remain for Zimbabwe and in that case, Craig Ervine will continue to sit out.

Squad: Hamilton Masakadza (c), Brian Chari, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, John Nyumbu, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Sikandar Raza, Chris Mpofu

What they said:

“Batting is our real concern. In this area, we are not doing well in Tests as we do in other formats. But if we think too much then the pressure will be on us. We will try to play our natural game. We will have a good chance if we can do that” – Mahmudullah, Bangladesh captain

© Cricbuzz


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